If all you want is to be called a "Software Engineer", then a fairly established route is to get a degree in something like Computer Science, Computer Engineer, or Information Technology,... and go apply for a job that will give you the title of "Software Engineer". Those are the more directly applicable majors but they are also not the only majors that can lead you into a career as a Software Engineer. Some of the most intelligent Software Engineers I've worked with were once Electrical Engineers, Mathematicians, Statisticians, and Physicists. College is also not the ONLY point of entry to the career (as G. Mark pointed out in his earlier answer) but having that degree will certainly check a box for a lot of resume reviewers.
However, you may still end up doing something within the field that you genuinely don't find interesting.
Before picking a major, I think the first steps are to further explore the world of software development to find out what you'd be interested in DOING as a "Software Engineer". You can do this by picking a project and seeing how far you get. It's OK if you never finish or discover that you don't necessarily enjoy that particular project. Just pick another and move on till you find something that you do like.
"Tinkering" is a common pass-time for many software engineers. It's how we stay up to date with the changes in technology over time. We also enjoy the "process" of discovering new tools (even if we don't have the time to master them in the moment). There's a feeling of "empowerment" when you find a new tool or technique that allows you to solve a problem better than you've solved it before.
From your Tinkering Adventures you'll learn what you like/dislike to do with computers. Maybe you'll find that you really enjoy programming in a particular language. Maybe you like programming hardware. Maybe you're more into graphics and user interfaces. Maybe you enjoy programming that's heavily involved with calculations and large amounts of data. Being able to define what kinds of projects you enjoy working on will help you to better determine how you want to go about entering your career.
If you pick the college route then you'll end up doing lots of projects for school that will help too. Whether you choose a traditional path or a self-taught path, I'd suggest you ask yourself what you'd like to DO with your career rather than stick to just pursuing a title.
David recommends the following next steps:
- Ask yourself what types of software engineering things you enjoy doing.
- Post another question to Career Village that asks for advice regarding how to pursue a career that will involve you working on the types of projects you've already decided you enjoy working on.